Much of tonight’s episode of Agents of SHIELD, “Afterlife,” was devoted to Agent Gonzales’s attempts to open Fury’s Toolbox, apparently the key to any SHIELD director’s success. But what exactly is in it, and why is everyone so keen on unlocking it?
At face value, the Toolbox is a device used for storing and displaying classified SHIELD information. It functions as a hard copy of sorts for sensitive files, and since it’s not networked to any other device, it can’t be remotely hacked or duplicated. Additionally, it works as an independent computer system, allowing it to display its data using a holographic interface.
After Nick Fury faked his death during the events of The Winter Soldier, he passed the Toolbox along to Phil Coulson, naming him as his successor. The Toolbox was meant to help Coulson rebuild SHIELD, giving him access to facilities, equipment, and information that only Fury knew about.
Locations and Coordinates
So far in the series, Coulson has mainly used the Toolbox to locate hidden SHIELD installments that survived the organization’s civil war. It initially led his team to the Playground, a remote SHIELD facility run by Billy Koenig.
This was our first hint at how powerful the Toolbox’s information was, as it was clear that HYDRA, despite how embedded they were in SHIELD, had no idea about this location. That seems to imply that Fury had set up a large network of facilities and personnel under his personal command, whose existence was not known to SHIELD at large.
Coulson has also used the Toolbox to access classified SHIELD information. While it’s likely that some of this info is available to other SHIELD agents, the Toolbox is handy because Coulson lost access to the bulk of SHIELD’s databases in the aftermath of the battle with HYDRA sleeper agents. Having the Toolbox means that Coulson basically has a backup of everything he needs from SHIELD’s old protected files.
Most notably, he used the Toolbox to access information on a Diviner confiscated by Peggy Carter, the first 0-8-4 that SHIELD came across.
Why Does Gonzales Want It?
According to Robert Gonzales, his team needs to access the Toolbox in order to track down powerful people and objects that SHIELD had been keeping tabs on (or even actively weaponizing). He wants to find and eliminate any threats, including Skye and other people on the Gifted Index.
Why Can’t He Open It?
Vague reasons having to do with biometrics or what not. That’s what Simmons was referring to when she said they needed lab work, not tech work, to open
Where is it now?
At the end of “Afterlife,” it’s revealed that Simmons helped Fitz smuggle the Toolbox out, leaving Gonzales with a replica. If Fitz can reunite with Coulson, that will finally put the Toolbox back in the hands of someone who can use it.